Tulsa gives the green light to replace aging poles that support traffic signals

Wednesday, January 12th 2005, 10:40 am
By: News On 6

The traffic poles are rusting from the inside out and that increases the chances of one falling over. News on Six reporter Emory Bryan has the story.

“There's a crack in this arm, which is right above us.” Don Roberts with the city of Tulsa’s Public Works Department keeps a photo album of the rusty poles at Tulsa intersections. It's his job to maintain them, but so many are rusting out, he can't replace them fast enough.

“We're not worried about the rust on the outside, its rust on the inside.”

The problem is the old green poles, many of them oil field pipe made into poles during the 1970's. They're cast iron and subject to rusting no matter how much paint is put on them. The city has 120 intersections with this type of pole - and all of them need to be replaced.

Some are in critical condition, but fortunately they tend to bend before they break. “So it didn't fall on anybody, it was just pointing in the wrong direction. It's wind.”

The replacement is rust proof aluminum poles that should last even longer than the poles they replace. The new poles are taller and stronger. They can hold up the bigger traffic signals the city uses now and it can keep them up even in a strong wind.

Paul Zachary with the city of Tulsa: "Right now on a lot of those poles we didn't want to put more weight on them and as we go to aluminum, we wanted to go with the kind of signals that can have a turning lane signal with yellow and amber that goes to red."

The work at 31st and Yale is an example of what will happen at dozens of intersections over the next year. The city hired an outside contractor to replace the rusting poles, with the idea that if it isn’t broke, that's the perfect time to fix it.

The city has about 440 intersections with signals. 120 are scheduled to be replaced. The priority is on the ones with holes and cracks in critical spots - and the city is constantly watching for that.